The Detroit Red Wings are in a lot better position at this point in the season then they were last year, entering the all-star break with a 30-13-6 record and second place in the Western Conference.
However, like last year, injuries have wreaked havoc on the Wings, putting them through adversity throughout the season. Serious injuries to players like Pavel Dastyuk, Daniel Cleary, Mike Modano, Brad Stuart, Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood have caused a lot of shuffling throughout the lineup.
Luckily for the Wings, both Datsyuk and Cleary are expected back immediately after the all-star break and they were able to get great contributions from players like Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm in the process.
Henrik Zetterberg B+
Has been Detroit's most consistent performer in Pavel Datsyuk's absence, not scoring like he can but sits third in the league with 37 assists. Providing great defensive play like he usually does, but I think he can be even better.
Pavel Datsyuk A
Was on pace for his first 100 point season before breaking his hand in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on December 22nd. Datsyuk was easily the Wings best player up to that point and the Wings are looking forward to his return after the all-star break.
Johan Franzen B-
Detroit's leading goal scorer with 21, Franzen has shown a tendency of taking some games off. He can either dominate games, setting up or producing a ton of scoring chances, or he can be nearly invisible the entire time.
Valtteri Filppula B
On pace for a career high in points and his first 20 goal season, Filppula has been hot and cold all year, but in general he has been a good second line center for the team. Filppula has 12 points in his last 12 games.
Todd Bertuzzi B
Started the season off on a tear, providing great two way play. He has slowed down the offensive production as of late, but still looks great on the ice.
Danny Cleary A-
Was on pace for his first 30 goal season until a Brad Stuart shot broke his ankle, Cleary is still second on the team in goals despite missing 14 games so far. Looks to have put behind him the injury problems that were slowing him down last season.
Tomas Holmstrom B-
Never the greatest skater, Holmstrom can sometimes drag down a line in terms of defensive play, but he is still the best in front of the net and continues to perform his role well on the power play.
Darren Helm B
Contributed very little offensively to start the season, Helm has been on fire as of late, notching 14 points in his last 17 games. Is Helm finally using his speed to create more scoring chances?
Jiri Hudler D
Much was expected of Hudler in his return from Russia, but so far it has been nothing but a disaster. Hasn't produced from the very beginning although it looks like he may be finally turning the corner with his offensive production. I believe he needs to remain playing with Filppula when Cleary and Datsyuk return.
Patrick Eaves B+
Eaves has been a great depth player for the Wings, filling in admirably for the injured Danny Cleary. With 13 goals so far this season, Eaves will more then likely eclipse his career high of 20 set during his rookie year.
Who is the team MVP so far?
Drew Miller C
Still a great penalty killer, Miller provides very little with his even strength play and is likely the odd man out when all the injured forwards return.
Justin Abdelkader C+
Came back from a preseason injury playing some amazing hockey, but eventually fell back down to earth. Still providing some decent hockey as the teams fourth line centre.
Nicklas Lidstrom: A
Still his usual great self, a lot is being made of Lidstrom being a minus player for the first time in his career, but being paired with the defensively inept hasn't helped his cause. Lidstrom is an early favorite for the Norris trophy.
Brian Rafalski B
The Wings are getting exactly what is expected from Rafalski, who has 32 points in 38 games. While he provides great offence from the blue line, Rafalski still struggles on the defensive side of things.
Niklas Kronwall B
Logging some big minutes while Stuart is out and with Lidstrom getting older, Kronwall has also had his share of difficulties with his defensive game, but still shows enough offence to be a solid National Hockey League defenseman.
Jonathan Ericsson B+
Also logging some serious minutes with Brad Stuarts injury, Ericsson has rebounded greatly from his poor season last year and has been a much needed defensive presence on the Wings blue line.
Brad Stuart B+
Another solid defensive defenseman, Stuart broke his jaw after being hit in the head and his loss has been a huge one for the Wings. Stuart brings stability to the entire Wings defence and his return is greatly anticipated.
Ruslan Salei C
Has looked lost at times, but Salei has been good enough this year for the Wings as a sixth defenseman, although he could make better decisions with the puck.
Jimmy Howard C
Although he is second in the NHL with 24 wins, Howard has not been good in his sophomore season. Rebounds continue to haunt him and he has shown that he will allow a weak goal nearly every game. Howard has to improve if the Wings want to make some noise come playoff time.